What impact has the corona virus pandemic had upon the creative industries of the global south?

“Voices of Creatives” is a study providing empirical evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on the culture and creative industries (CCI) in six partner countries of German development cooperation. The community-sourced project has compiled and interpreted the most advanced data to date about the impact of Covid-19 specifically on the music, fashion and design sectors in Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Senegal and South Africa. It also includes recommendations for suitable response actions. 

As part of the Global Project of Cultural and Creative Industries the study was commission by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the German International Cooperation (GIZ) created by VibeLab and supported by Goethe-Institut.

Download the study (in English) and the Executive Summaries (English, French, Arabic) here for free:

The Voices of Creatives study concludes:

Covid-19 and other shocks of 2020 — such as the devastating explosion in Beirut, racing inflation across Lebanon, record flooding in African Sahel, or heavy political unrest in Iraq — have created an existential crisis for CCI. Financial losses were extreme. Quality of life and employment dropped significantly. 

The needs of CCI professionals vary across industries and by country, but many of the values, experiences, and priorities of creative individuals are universal.

  • More than 90% of business owners in every city reported a year-over-year loss of income, with over 70% in each city reporting income reduced greater than half. These impacts were even worse for those self-employed.
  • Music, across all countries investigated, was the sector most severely impacted by the pandemic.  
  • Cross-sectoral exchange between creative professionals and stakeholders has been negligible. However, advocacy, the representation of interests and the leverage synergy effects hold great potential.
  • The importance of digital technology in CCI has accelerated. There is high demand for access to affordable internet service, software and hardware, and a need for training in digital technologies and business practices.
  • Physical spaces for cultural production were badly impacted by the pandemic and its consequences, and remain at risk. They are vital to the future of CCI, despite the emergence of digital markets and spaces.
  • Small businesses and freelancers need access to funding, training, and foreign markets, but also need legitimacy and acceptance in their home communities.
  • While flexible forms of aid can be of great advantage under the current, volatile circumstances, there is a deep yearning for stability, longer term visions, and committed collaboration.
  • International community-building and cooperation is hindered by current travel restrictions and — for some countries — longer lasting, structural obstacles to international trade, postage and digital payment that need to be addressed.

The study contains detailed recommendations to address these findings, and in-depth country profiles, where specific data and strategic analyses help present the concerns, opportunities and hopes of stakeholders on the ground. 

Background & Method:

The Voices of Creatives research team focused on 7 cities as the culture and creative industries usually thrive well in high density environments and as greater numbers of participants could be reached there: Amman, Beirut, Cape Town, Dakar, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Sulaymaniyah, working with coordinators on the ground in each city to digitally conduct more than 600 surveys and 40 hours of focus group interviews with 130 participants.

The study was executed by VibeLab, a leading, purpose-driven consultancy agency with a vast network across 6 continents, known for empowering creative communities across the world by using data and engagement to turn their values and needs into public priorities.

The Global Project Cultural and Creative Industries is implemented by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the BMZ and in cooperation with the Goethe Institut. It helps to create employment and income opportunities for and with creatives in six partner countries – Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa mainly in the sectors music, fashion, design and animation. In addition to strengthening entrepreneurial, digital, creative and technical skills, the project strengthens the creative ecosystem and the framework conditions for the cultural and creative industries.

Find out more about the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) [here], the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) [here], Goethe-Institut [here], VibeLab, [here]